Archive for the ‘HBO’ Category

AT&T raises DirecTV Now price—again—after promising lower post-merger bills

March 12th, 2019
An AT&T logo on the side of a building.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | ljhimages)

AT&T is reportedly raising the price of DirecTV Now by $10 a month and notifying current subscribers that they will pay the new, higher price starting in April.

DirecTV Now packages today cost $40 to $75 a month before add-ons such as HBO, and current customers will reportedly pay $10 a month more regardless of which package they subscribe to, making the prices $50 to $85. News reports say AT&T is also reconfiguring its channel packages for new subscribers, adding HBO to basic packages while eliminating dozens of channels that aren't part of the AT&T-owned Time Warner Inc. New customers will reportedly be able to choose from two slimmer plans costing $50 or $70 a month.

The price hike and channel reduction are happening despite AT&T promising that its acquisition of Time Warner would lower prices for customers. When the Department of Justice tried to stop the merger, AT&T told a judge in a May 2018 court filing that the merger "will enable the merged company to reduce prices."

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In a golden age of SXSW brand activations, at least Game of Thrones draws blood

March 8th, 2019

AUSTIN, Texas—The hottest ticket at South by Southwest 2019 may not involve a band or a film. Instead... it's for blood donations.

Fresh off its much hyped SXSW 2018 Westworld experience, HBO partnered up with the American Red Cross this year for "Bleed For The Throne," a blood drive held within yet another signature "immersive activation" at the festival. While people anywhere can participate in the overall Red Cross initiative, donors in Austin this week get the perk of walking through recreations of Game of Throne's King's Landing Throne Room and an exterior camp site where everyday people from Westeros await to perform and interact. According to the event press release, 80-plus actors and musicians have been hired to bring it all to life, and they're working from 100-plus pages of character script and backstory. A royal woman told us we had to listen to light inside us; a female soldier at the camp commented on the excellent mobility of our "armor"—aka, a bike helmet attached to a backpack.

If you're attending SXSW and haven't reserved a spot yet, don't bother. After a Thursday media preview, HBO PR sent out an update noting all available appointments for the weekend had been reserved within two hours of opening. On the plus side, the GoT tie-in has led to a reported 40 percent increase in new donor appointments since the campaign announcement.

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Posted in Game of Thrones, Gaming & Culture, HBO, SXSW, SXSW2019 | Comments (0)

As HBO and Turner bosses quit, AT&T announces big Time Warner reorganization

March 4th, 2019
The HBO logo on a TV screen with static.

Enlarge (credit: HBO)

HBO is planning to produce 50 percent more original content this year, even as new owner AT&T reportedly plans significant layoffs across its Time Warner subsidiary.

WarnerMedia, the AT&T division created after its June 2018 acquisition of Time Warner, told Ars today that it is planning to reduce costs for "duplicative back-office functions," while increasing investment in producing content. WarnerMedia today also issued a press release announcing a reorganization that will create four business divisions "around entertainment networks, live programming, content production, and affiliate and advertising sales."

"From an HBO content perspective, and this is irrespective of today's announcement, they are already increasing and looking to increase their original content by 50 percent this year," WarnerMedia Senior VP of Corporate Communications Emile Lee told Ars.

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True Detective’s stellar third season will restore your faith in the series

March 2nd, 2019
"Did you think you could just go on and never once have to look back?" An elderly Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) has to reckon with his dark past in season 3 of <em>True Detective</em>.

Enlarge / "Did you think you could just go on and never once have to look back?" An elderly Wayne Hays (Mahershala Ali) has to reckon with his dark past in season 3 of True Detective. (credit: YouTube/HBO)

HBO's True Detective was a pop-culture sensation when it debuted in 2014, but its sophomore outing sadly had none of the original's haunting magic. So we were pleased to discover season 3 had returned to form, mixing elements of noir and procedural drama to weave a haunting tale of fractured time and memory. It's the best installment yet in the anthology series.

(Mild spoilers below.)

Created by novelist Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective has always fostered a very literary, philosophical tone, falling very much into the "slow burn" category of prestige TV. When it works, it's brilliant. Season 1 was set in the Louisiana Bayou, as Detective Rustin "Rust" Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and his partner Detective Martin "Marty" Hart (Woody Harrelson) tracked down a twisted serial killer with a fondness for leaving weird twig sculptures in the woods. The spooky setting and strong chemistry between the lead actors pretty much ensured its success with viewers and critics alike.

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Posted in Entertainment, Gaming & Culture, HBO, reviews, Television, True Detective | Comments (0)

HBO boss quits as owner AT&T seeks more shows and more profit

March 1st, 2019
HBO CEO Richard Plepler.

Enlarge / HBO CEO Richard Plepler at the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 11, 2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho. (credit: Getty Images | Drew Angerer)

HBO CEO Richard Plepler announced his resignation yesterday, less than a year after AT&T completed its acquisition of HBO and the rest of Time Warner Inc.

In a company-wide memo available in this Hollywood Reporter story, Plepler told employees that he made the "difficult decision" to leave at "an inflection point in the life of this wonderful company."

Plepler worked at HBO for nearly 28 years, serving as chairman and CEO since 2013 and as co-president from 2007 to 2013. He struck a positive tone in his memo. "Thanks to all of you, we are today churning on all cylinders both creatively and as a business," he wrote. "Thanks to all of you, I can move on to the next chapter of my life knowing that the best team in the industry remains here to carry on our continued progress and success."

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Posted in AT&T, Biz & IT, HBO, richard plepler | Comments (0)

Teaser gives first look at BBC’s adaptation of His Dark Materials trilogy

February 24th, 2019

New adaptation of Philip Pullman's <em>His Dark Materials</em> trilogy coming soon to HBO and BBC.

The BBC has dropped the first teaser for its forthcoming eight-part adaptation of Sir Philip Pullman's beloved fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials. It's mostly just a quick glimpse of several major characters, but it does give us a sense of the glorious look and tone of the new series.

(Mild spoilers for Philip Pullman trilogy below.)

First published in 1995, the three books in the series are The Golden Compass (published as Northern Lights in the U.K.), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. They follow the adventures of a 12-year-old girl named Lyra, who lives in a fictional version of Oxford, England, circa the Victorian era. Everyone has has a companion daemon in the form of an animal—part of their spirit that resides outside the body; Lyra's is named Pantalaimon. Lyra uncovers a sinister plot that sends her on a journey to find her father in hopes of foiling said plot. That journey takes her to different dimensions (the fictional world is a multiverse) and ultimately to her own coming-of-age.

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Posted in adaptations, BBC, Entertainment, Gaming & Culture, HBO, His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman, Television, Trailers | Comments (0)

Here’s what we know so far about long-awaited Game of Thrones prequel

January 9th, 2019
The rumored prequel to HBO's smash hit <em>Game of Thrones</em> will take place thousands of years before the events of the original series—perhaps involving the Children of the Forest, the original inhabitants of Westeros.

Enlarge / The rumored prequel to HBO's smash hit Game of Thrones will take place thousands of years before the events of the original series—perhaps involving the Children of the Forest, the original inhabitants of Westeros. (credit: HBO)

HBO has unleashed a flood of casting news about a planned prequel to its hugely successful Game of Thrones series, which will air its final season later this year. Details are scarce, but the company confirmed the prequel will be set thousands of years before the events of the original series, fueling even more fan speculation about which aspects of George R.R. Martin's vast fictional universe will be featured.

We do get some strong hints from the official HBO website. The prequel "chronicles the world's descent from the Golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour," HBO announced. "From the horrifying secrets of Westeros' history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend, only one thing is for sure: It's not the story we think we know."

A Long Night?

The Age of Heroes in the Martinverse timeline coincides with two key mythical figures, Bran the Builder—a House Stark forebear famous for building the great Wall of Westeros (the one that came crashing down in the final moments of last season)—and Lann the Clever, a forefather of House Lannister. This is also right around the time of the infamous "Long Night" occasionally referenced on Game of Thrones, a winter that lasted a very long time, when mankind first waged war against the White Walkers, ultimately joining forces with the Children of the Forest to defeat them. Martin himself referred to the prequel as The Long Night, and while HBO has not confirmed it, it'll do for a working title.

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Posted in Entertainment, Game of Thrones, Gaming & Culture, George R.R. Martin, HBO, prequel, Television, The Long Winter | Comments (0)

Tim Cook defends using Google as primary search engine on Apple devices

November 19th, 2018
Apple CEO Tim Cook looks on as the new iPhone X goes on sale at an Apple Store on November 3, 2017 in Palo Alto, California.

Enlarge / Apple CEO Tim Cook looks on as the new iPhone X goes on sale at an Apple Store on November 3, 2017 in Palo Alto, California. (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In an interview with Axios on HBO, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained the decision to use Google as the default search engine on Apple products. This decision has baffled some considering Google's business model of making money off of users' data—something Apple has spoken out against numerous times.

"I think their search engine is the best," Cook said in the interview. He followed up by diving into privacy features Apple has implemented in its Safari browser.

"Look at what we've done with the controls we've built in," Cook stated. "We have private web browsing. We have an intelligent tracker prevention. What we've tried to do is come up with ways to help our users through their course of the day. It's not a perfect thing. I'd be the very first person to say that. But it goes a long way to helping."

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Posted in apple, axios, google, HBO, Privacy, Search engine, Tech, Tim Cook | Comments (0)

Here’s the first teaser for the final season of Game of Thrones

November 13th, 2018
The survivors of the first eight seasons of <em>Game of Thrones</em> will face the Night King and his army of White Walkers and wights in the final season.

Enlarge / The survivors of the first eight seasons of Game of Thrones will face the Night King and his army of White Walkers and wights in the final season. (credit: HBO)

It has been a long wait for the final season of Game of Thrones, and sadly, the wait is not quite over yet. But HBO has thrown hungry fans a bone with a shiny new teaser trailer. There's no new footage from the upcoming episodes, but we do get one full minute featuring some of our favorite moments from seasons past.

(Some spoilers from prior seasons below.)

Game of Thrones is the HBO adaptation of George R.R. Martin's best-selling Song of Ice and Fire series of novels—for those of you who've been living under a rock since the show debuted in 2011 and turned into a bona fide global phenomenon. It's a ratings blockbuster for HBO that has won multiple Emmys and may be one of the most expensive TV series ever made, thanks to numerous film-quality battle scenes, CGI dragons, and a simply massive all-star cast of characters. Bonus: it's got a killer theme song and opening title sequence.

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Posted in Entertainment, Game of Thrones, Gaming & Culture, George R.R. Martin, HBO, Song of Ice and Fire, teasers, televisions, Trailers | Comments (0)

Westworld’s Main Street shooting set at Paramount Ranch burns down

November 10th, 2018
Horses are spooked as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California.

Enlarge / Horses are spooked as the Woolsey Fire moves through the property on Cornell Road near Paramount Ranch on November 9, 2018 in Agoura Hills, California. (credit: Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)

The Woolsey Fire currently burning in Los Angeles County has destroyed much of the Western Town, a key feature of Paramount Ranch. The site was where the Main Street scenes in Westworld were filmed.

The news was first announced Friday by the National Park Service, which manages the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

The church featured in the HBO series was also built on the ranch, and appears to be still standing, according to a tweet from cast member Evan Rachel Wood, who plays the sentient android Dolores Abernathy.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, HBO, westworld, woolsey fire | Comments (0)